President Michael D Higgins said that Nicola Sturgeon “brought a freshness and enthusiasm to the tasks of representation and public service.”
Nicola Sturgeon’s contribution to public life as First Minister of Scotland has been recognised in Scotland and abroad as a particularly distinguished one,” he said in a statement this afternoon.
“During her time in office, Nicola Sturgeon brought a freshness and enthusiasm to the tasks of representation and public service that was singular. This was exemplified in the leadership she displayed during the COVID-19 pandemic, when she communicated necessary reassurance with the sharing of practical measures that had to be taken.”
President Higgins said that Ms Sturgeon had combined these skills with a warm sense of hospitality, which he encountered when he visited Scotland in 2016.
“At both this meeting, and on her visit to Áras an Uachtaráin the same year, I was struck by her willingness to discuss contemporary events with a frankness and a respect for complexity and mutual understanding that was very helpful.”
Nicola Sturgeon announced she will stand down after eight years as Scotland’s First Minister, telling a press conference “the time is now”. The longest-serving – and first female – First Minister told a hastily arranged press conference she will remain in office while the SNP selects her successor.
Earlier today Taoiseach Leo Varadkar hailed Ms Sturgeon as a “true European”.
He paid tribute to her in the Dáil shortly after she announced her decision to resign as Scotland’s First Minister.
Mr Varadkar said the outgoing SNP leader had shown “huge commitment to her country”.
“I met her many times in Dublin and also in the context of the British-Irish Council,” he said.
“And I always found her to be an impressive, competent, articulate and thoughtful politician, a true European and a friend of Ireland and certainly she will always be welcome at our table.”
He added: “I wish Nicola and her family the very best for the future.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin also paid tribute to Ms Sturgeon. “Over many years, Nicola has demonstrated strong leadership rooted in her vision for Scotland,” he said.
“Ireland and Scotland are close neighbours and friends, and I have greatly appreciated and valued my regular engagement with the First Minister, particularly at British-Irish Council summits.
“I want to wish her all the best and look forward to engaging with her successor in due course.”